LOS ANGELES – Nordine Oubaali would feel out of place defending his title anywhere other than the road.
The unbeaten WBC bantamweight titlist has once again stamped his passport for his latest ring appearance, as he faces former four-division champ Nonito Donaire (40-6, 26KOs). The bout takes place at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (SHOWTIME, Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT), extending the entirety of Oubaali’s current title reign away from his native France.
“I’m proud to play that role,” Oubaali told BoxingScene.com of his road warrior status. “All of my biggest wins have taken place away from home and that is how I'd like to be remembered. I get to make my story by winning (on the road).”
Oubaali (17-0, 12KOs)—who represented France in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics—fights in the United States for just the second time in his career. The lone other occasion ignited his current title reign, facing longtime amateur rival and former bantamweight titlist Rau’Shee Warren, whom Oubaali outpointed in their Jan. 2019 vacant title fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Two defenses followed soon thereafter. Oubaali traveled to Kazakhstan for a 6th round knockout of Arthur Villanueva in July 2019, followed by a 12-round unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten interim titlist Takuma Inoue in their Nov. 2019 title consolidation clash in Saitama, Japan.
Several delays kept Oubaali, 34, on the shelf since then before his mandatory title fight with Donaire landed in Southern California. The bout marks the fourth career fight at this specific venue for Donaire, whose family relocated from the Philippines to San Leandro, California during his childhood. The 38-year old Fil-Am superstar and future Hall of Famer is expected to pull the crowd, a scenario openly embraced by his opponent and defending champion.
“I proved myself in the US and am ready to do it again. I know he will have a lot of fans there. I expect a lot of Filipino support for him. Winning over here means so much more than winning at home, where the competition isn’t always as strong. Establishing myself in this country is obviously more difficult and I get to prove that I am the best or one of the best bantamweights in the world.
“When they look back, they will see not just that I am winning but who I am beating and where these wins take place.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox